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Avera Health Receives Federal Funding for eEmergency Network

Nov 25, 2014 12:28PM ● By MED Magazine

Avera has been awarded $400,000 through the Evidence-Based Tele-Emergency Network Program to develop the Midwest Rural eEmergency Access and Research Network.

The network will serve 21 rural and frontier communities in South Dakota, Kansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, an area with a total population of more than 194,000. Eighteen hospitals in these communities are receiving eEmergency services through Avera eCARE, and three critical access hospitals in Kansas will implement eEmergency as part of the project.

Due to the limited availability of healthcare personnel in these areas, many facilities would not be able to maintain 24-hour emergency department services without eEmergency which links rural locations to a “virtual hospital” hub in Sioux Falls through interactive video and computer technology. At the touch of a red button on the wall of a local emergency room, staff can be in contact with emergency physicians within a matter of seconds, around the clock. eEmergency serves 88 hospitals, including a number of non-Avera sites.

The project goal is to enhance rural access to emergency services through research efforts and development of an evidence base related to telemedicine support for emergency chest pain, stroke and intubation services. There are 21 rural hospital sites in the network, including 15 hospitals unaffiliated with Avera, as well as six owned or operated by Avera.

Gary Hart, PhD, Director of the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, will serve as Research Director for the network and will lead efforts to evaluate how this program impacts rates of hospital admission, transfers to tertiary facilities, patient outcomes, cost efficiency, and provider satisfaction.

The tele-emergency grants were part of $22 million in funding to support healthcare in rural areas recently announced by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Awards went out to more than 100 communities in 42 states.

“Rural communities have some of the greatest needs for expanding access to healthcare,” said HRSA Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN. “These investments represent our commitment at the federal level to support partners on the ground, who are working to strengthen healthcare delivery in every area of the country.”